How does the opening of Frenzy differ from the opening of The Lodger? Feel free to rewatch the clip from The Lodger (Daily Dose #2) for comparison.
In my opinion, the similarities are the Thames River as a locale. Also, Frenzy begins with a crowd scene which is similar to The Lodger. In The Lodger, we are shown the killer’s ‘signature’ – the note that says The Avenger. In Frenzy, if you look closely, we can see the necktie floating around the victim’s neck. The necktie being the killer’s signature in Frenzy. We are not immediately introduced to a main character as part of the crowd (think 39 Steps opening, original Man Who Knew Too Much).
The difference is that in The Lodger, it took place on a foggy evening (you’d expect a Ripper-like murder in that setting). In Frenzy, it is broad daylight – the tourist’s London - – a very ordinary event such as this politician’s speech. In the opening scene of The Lodger, the concept of ‘mass-produced news’ is very much in the forefront (teletypes, newsrooms, newspapers, rapid communication). In Frenzy, you get the idea that politics and the societal state of London will play a much greater role.
What are some of the common Hitchcock touches that you see in this opening scene? Be specific.
The crowd scene – we’ve seen him use crowds so often in his films. I’d argue that his earlier use of crowd scenes were more effective because it served not only as a reference for the time and place and setting, but also to eventually focus on one particular individual in the crowd who will play a major part in the story.
The high shots – This particular high-shot is done outside. We get the Travelogue aerial tour of the city. We’ve seen this kind of shot in The Birds and Psycho, more recently. Hitchcock used very effectively both indoor and outdoor high-angle shots in so many films. But we can surely see that Hitch is definitely taking full advantage of the technology now available.
An ordinary setting – There’s nothing scary about the setting. It’s perhaps an overcast and cool spring day in London. People are listening to a speech by a politician. What could possibly go wrong? A body floating down the river. Disturbing scenes of violence disrupting a perfectly lovely day and setting.
What I also noticed is perhaps the ‘duality’ of the two Towers of London Bridge. The concept of duality has been mentioned several times and it’s interesting that Hitch takes the camera between the Towers, rather than over them which would probably have been much easier.
Cameo – Hitch is back to his more humorous cameos here. How? By doing absolutely nothing! By being the only person not applauding the speech, he sticks out like a very disapproving thumb.
Using Frenzy as an example, what thoughts do you have about the various purposes Hitchcock had in mind when he created his opening scenes? In the Daily Doses, we have focused on opening scenes, so there should be patterns or strategies you have noticed over the course of opening scenes spanning Hitchcock's 50 year career.
I think the simplest answer works best here as I try to remember as many Daily Doses as I can. Hitchcock uses his opening shots to establish the time period and place of the film. Additionally, I feel he also uses the opening shot to establish who our main characters are and how they fit into the context of the film. We might get an idea of what they do for a living, or perhaps we’ll get information about the socio-economic status of the characters.
Vertigo, North by Northwest – we know Jimmy Stewart is a cop/detective. Cary Grant is an urban professional. Middle/Professional class.
Strangers on a Train, original Man Who Knew Too Much – we get a feeling that the people are upper-middle, or upper-class. They have money. They can travel.
The Lodger – Seedy, uneducated, lower-class London.
Frenzy – There isn’t any information provided in this film other than a general sense of time and place.